Development and Pilot Test of the Competency Assessment for Sexual Assault Prevention Practitioners

Published in: Health Promotion Practice (2022). doi: 10.1177/15248399221084228

Posted on RAND.org on October 14, 2022

by AnnaMarie O'Neill, Joie D. Acosta, Matthew Chinman, Andra Tharp, Beverly Fortson

Sexual assault is a preventable problem that is widespread and particularly prevalent for certain populations (e.g., female college students, Native American women). Despite the gravity of this public health priority, most individuals tasked with the primary prevention of sexual assault are not adequately trained for the job (e.g., professionals often trained solely in sexual assault response). To achieve optimal outcomes, professionals responsible for implementing sexual assault prevention must possess certain core competencies, or knowledge and skills essential for job performance, which include those needed for any primary prevention effort in addition to those specific to sexual assault prevention. The purpose of this study was to develop and assess the construct validity of a competency assessment tool for sexual assault prevention practitioners. An existing assessment tool, which was designed for injury and violence prevention practitioners, was tailored to reflect competencies needed by sexual assault prevention practitioners as informed by the literature. The newly tailored measure was pilot tested with 33 individuals with varying levels of expertise with sexual assault prevention. These individuals were categorized into three groups based on self-rated sexual assault prevention expertise (low, medium, or high) to assess group differences. As expected, the high expertise group rated higher knowledge in all the competencies than the medium and low expertise groups (except for the competency pertaining to developing and maintaining competency). Data collection and analyses were conducted in 2020. Implications for how the assessment tool can be used to identify gaps among individual practitioners and teams of practitioners are discussed.

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